Every evening in the bar at the lodge we serve these little puffs. Guests love them with a glass of wine. This is a recipe with a past - a very old fashioned bread puff flavored with Swiss cheese officially called gougere in France.
Gougere are made from flour and butter paste called pate a choux which translates to "cabbage paste". The pastry for the pate a choux (also known as cream puff paste) is one type of dough worth learning how to make. From the basic dough you can bake desserts such as cream puffs, eclairs and other delicious sweets. The addition of grated cheese (and/or herbs, spices, or bits of smoked salmon) transforms the dough into savory gougere.
Gougere have hollow insides, perfect just as is for a light and refreshing bite - or to be stuffed with delicious fillings such as wild mushrooms and onions or smoked salmon cardamom spread. Once baked, gougere are best eaten fresh, but after cooling them you can store them in airtight containers in the freezer up to 10 days. To serve, reheat the cheese puffs directly from the freezer in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until they are hot.
To make these little puffs, first preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray 2 baking sheet pans with nonstick spray.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine 6 Tablespoons butter, 1 cup of chicken stock, and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring this mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 cup of bread flour and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, stir until the dough is formed and is smooth and shiny. Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2 minutes.
Add in 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add in 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, pepper to taste and about a Tablespoon of minced chives. Continue mixing until well incorporated.
Drop the dough by tablespoons onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake them for about 10 minutes or until they are golden and puffy. Makes 24 servings.
You can make your gougere in different shapes, like a big ring - or pipe it from a pastry bag - or make large oversized puff pastries and fill them with sandwich fillings like dressed baby greens.
There is a short video of this recipe to the right. (Don't look at my hairdo - it was a hard working day in the kitchen!)